Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs, Religion

This Book was give to Sarah Jacobs.

Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver left two Bibles. One, a gift from her second husband, Rev. Joseph Silver, had originally belonged to his first wife, Felicia Hawkins Silver. The other passed through several hands before arriving in mine.

There are three inscriptions inside the front cover. “This book was give to Sarah Jacobs from Ganny Caroline 1920 of Wilson NC” — that’s my grandmother’s handwriting. Then, faintly: “Present by Mrs Caroline Vick of Wilson N.C. present in May 18th year 1904.” Then: “Gladys OKelley book give to her by Charity Pitt keep as long as I live no one to take it a way from me year 1913 Dec 23.”


Who are these folk?

Carolina Williamston Vick was born in Newton County, Georgia in 1844. How or why she came 425 miles north to settle in Wilson, North Carolina, may never be known, but a clue might lie in her maiden name. “Williamson” was a prominent southwest Wilson County family that included slaveholders. Did some migrate — or sell their slaves — South? In any case, Carolina was in Wilson by 1880 when she is listed in a household headed by 28 year-old Robert Vick. They are married and have three children, Alice, 18, Willie, 15, and Cora Vick, 3. (It appears that the older two were Robert’s step-children.) By 1900, Carolina was living in the 700 block of Green Street (around the corner from the Elba Street house) and spent the reminder of her life living with a rotating series of children, grandchildren, in-laws and lodgers and serving as a midwife to women in the community. “Granny Caroline” died in July 1925, when my grandmother was 15 years old.

carolina Vick

As for Gladys O’Kelly (or Gladys O. Kelly), the nine year-old that so vigorously assorted her ownership in 1913 — see below.

The Bible’s frontispiece introduces another owner:


Unfortunately, her name is too common to begin to identify her.

As was custom in good quality Bibles of the era, the book’s text is halved by a shiny section of maps and illustrations and charts. My grandmother filled blank pages and the backs of leaves with the births and deaths and marriages of her family, her handwriting gradually shifting from a barely recognizable, youthful, curlicued version to the one I know so well.



The “Births” page introduces another family. Or maybe families. Gladys O’Kelly is there, and there are two Carolina Vick entries.


The others seem to be members of an extended family I found in the 1880 census of Hillsboro, Orange County, North Carolina: Yunk Strayhorn (45), his wife Patsey (36), son Isaac (18), son-in-law Louis Pitt (25) and daughter Charity Pitt (23), children Rose (24), Jane (17), Henry and Reuben (13), Sandy (23) and Clara (21), and grandchildren Richard (3), Adeline (12) and Margaret (9). (Lewis Pitt married Charity Strayhorn in Edgecombe County in 1872 and moved to Wilson.) Little Gladys O’Kelly? She seems to have been the daughter of Rose Strayhorn’s daughter Gatsey and her husband, Reubin O’Kelly, both of Orange County.

And then there are Madison Perry, son of Carolina Vick’s daughter Cora, who married Isham Perry, and the Shiverses:


IMG_4935I’ve been unable to find all the Shiverses, and what I have found doesn’t align cleanly with the dates inscribed here (for example, John and Nicey Shivers, born about 1872 and 1880, are listed in the 1900 census with six-month-old daughter Kizzy), but this appears to be a family that lived in Greenville, Pitt County at the turn of the 20th century.

I don’t hope to be able to reconstruct how this Bible bounced all over eastern North Carolina like this before coming to rest with my family, which has had it nearly 100 years. I share it here in hopes that descendants of the other families who cherished it will find themselves in its pages.

Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Oral History, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs, Religion

When your pilgrimage is over.

… Self life that might hender and draw you to earthly thing it inpels you on in to Godlines Paul sed I die dailey to the things of this world yeal your life dailey and hold your life in submision to the will of God and live by his word that you may grow unto the fulles measure of the staturs of Chris the one that lives wright is the ones who will a bide bide with him the day of his coming and stand when he a …

… Come by your God like impression God will take care of you no matter where you are cax aside all fear and put your trust in God and you are save.  Then when your pulgrimage is over and you are call from labor to reward you will be greeted with that holy welcome that is delivered to all true missionaries come in the blessed of my father …

My grandmother had a large, dusty black Bible that had belonged to her “mama,” Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver.  (The Bible’s original owner was Carolina Vick, a midwife in east Wilson — her family’s birth and death dates are inscribed in its leaves.)  When I first thumbed through the Book in the early 1990s, I found two scraps of paper stuck deep in its chapters. Pencilled in a square, unsophisticated hand were these bits of Sarah’s sermons. She had left the Congregationalism of her upbringing and joined the Holiness movement sweeping the country in the early 1900s.  My grandmother was not impressed:

I was just thinking ‘bout that today, ‘bout how we used to do.  Mama’d make us go to Holiness Church and stay down there and run a revival two weeks.  And we’d go down there every night and lay back down there on the bench and go to sleep.  Then they’d get us up, and then we didn’t have sense enough to do nothing but go to sleep and get up. 

Mama’d go every night.  And they’d be shouting, holy and sanctified, jumping and shouting.  I don’t know, that put me out with the Holiness church.  And sanctified people.  I know Mama wont doing right.

Evangelist Sarah spent night after night jumping and shouting, leaving my adolescent grandmother to wash and iron the endless loads of laundry they took in from white customers. Sarah apparently met her second husband, Rev. Joseph Silver, founder of one of the earliest Holiness churches in eastern North Carolina, on the revival circuit. They married in 1933 and divided the five years before her death between Wilson and his home in Halifax County.


Sarah H. Jacobs and her Bible, with my uncle Lucian J. Henderson in the background, taken in Wilson NC circa 1930. (I have the Bible, but some time between when I first saw — and transcribed — the sermon scraps and when I took possession after my grandmother’s death in 2001, the pieces of paper were lost.)

Photo of Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson. Interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.